Heart failure essentially means that that the heart muscle is unable to pump blood around the body as effectively as it used to, or as it should do. This can be due to a number of causes that leave the heart too 'stiff' or too 'weak' to work as it should; your heart is still working but you may need some extra support to help it to do its job (NHS, 2021; BHF, 2021).
There are a number of different types of heart failure that you may have (Healthline, 2021) and different types may cause slight variations in the symptoms you may experience:
The main symptoms of heart failure that are usually noted are (NHS, 2021; BHF,2021):
You may also experience some other, less common symptoms, with heart failure which include: arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), loss of appetite, nausea, dizziness, wheezing, a persistent cough (which is often worse at night) and weight changes (NHS, 2021).
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms noted above, it is important to get in touch with your GP for a review. Testing will not only help to diagnose heart failure but should also be able to give us further indication as to the extent, or stage, of this condition; heart failure can be staged between 1 and 4, with stage 4 being the most serious (NHS, 2021).
Some tests that are commonly used to diagnose heart failure are (NHS, 2021; BHF, 2021):
If needed your GP may wish to refer you on to a specialist cardiologist to look into your condition further and carry out more diagnostic tests.
There is no 'one' cause of heart failure, and it may be due to a number of different problems or conditions affecting the heart at the same time (NHS, 2021). There are a number of conditions that could contribute to the development of heart failure and the condition may develop suddenly, or it may progress more slowly over time (BHF, 2021).
The conditions that most frequently cause the development of heart failure are (BNF, 2021):
A number of other conditions can also contribute to the development of heart failure, including (BHF, 2021; NHS, 2021):
What treatment options are advised will often depend on the underlying cause of the heart failure, and the severity of your symptoms and condition. Some of these treatments are (NHS, 2021; BHF, 2021):
I hope the above information is useful but if you would like to talk things through further with one of our nurses in the Health at Hand team then please do call us on 0800 003 004; our nurses are available 24/7 to offer medical information and support.
Answered by the Health at Hand team.
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British Heart Foundation, 2021. Heart failure. Available at: Heart Failure - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - British Heart Foundation (bhf.org.uk). (Accessed 27 April 2021).
Healthline, 2021. Types of heart failure. Available at: Types of Heart Failure: Diastolic, Congestive, Biventricular and More (healthline.com). (Accessed 27 April 2021).
Heart Failure Matters, 2021. Coronary artery disease. Available at: Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Failure (heartfailurematters.org). (Accessed 27 April 2021).
NHS, 2021. Amyloidosis. Available at: Amyloidosis - NHS (www.nhs.uk). (Accessed 27 April 2021).
NHS, 2021. Heart Failure. Available at: Heart failure - NHS (www.nhs.uk). (Accessed 27 April 2021).
Pulmonary Hypertension Association, 2021. What is pulmonary hypertension? Available at: What is Pulmonary Hypertension? | PHA (phauk.org). (Accessed 27 April 2021).
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